Dealing With Writers Block
By Chris Glyde
Writer’s block is the bane of songwriters everywhere. When the pressure’s on, you just can’t seem to write anything good. How do we solve this problem?. We do idea generation sessions on a daily basis. That way, you always have a bank of good material stored up to write with.
This also eliminates the need to come up with a great written instrument section on the spot. Here’s how the process works:
Idea generation is generally at least a 14 day process but you may also do it daily and so you can constantly work on generating ideas. The idea generation process relies on restrictions.
What are restrictions?
Restrictions are musical ideas or elements that you stick to for the course of your idea-generation session. Here are examples:
Restrictions for session one: I will write in only A major using power chords and open chords.
Restriction for session two: I will write only using 16th-note rhythm patterns and will play all power chords.
Restrictions for session three: I will write a riff using chords, single notes and palm muting.
The possibilities are endless which is why this is such a great way to generate ideas. The restrictions can change every session or you can keep one or two of the variables the same. It doesn’t really matter.
The Idea Generation Process
Step 1: Pick restrictions for today’s session
Step 2: Set up your recording device
Step 3: Set up a timer: this session will be 20 to 30 minutes long
Step 4: Press play and begin generating ideas (this is a stream of ideas so if you get some ideas for form or how the song should be designed based on what you’re playing, then go ahead and speak them into the recording device to document later).
Step 5: At some point later in the day listen to the recording with a sheet of paper at hand. Write down any moment that catches your ear. While doing this you may generate ideas about where you’d like the song to go. If they’re audio ideas, like riffs or melodies, record them in separate little files. If they’re form ideas, you may talk through them (I have included my track listings for the ideas I like and comments as well so you can view the whole process).
Step 6: Do this on a daily basis or multiple times a week. After a week or so you’ll have so many ideas you have to say no to some of them.
1) Keep in mind that, if you’re working on visualization skills or physical technique skills like rhythm or lead playing, you need to have those somewhat down before applying them to your songwriting.
For example: If you can’t strum the basic four 16th-note patterns consistently, it would be pointless to try to use them in your songwriting, because you literally can’t do it. You would end up sitting there for 20 minutes trying to get the rhythm right.
For visualization, if you can’t accurately visualize the scale you’re working with up and down the fretboard (and this is still pretty basic compared to how deep your knowledge of a scale can get) then you will not be able to use it that well in combination with your other skills.
2) Do not judge your ideas if you can avoid it. The trick with this type of idea generation is to constantly explore new ideas. Its not about being worried about making something that sounds bad or good. It doesn’t matter at this stage.
About The Author:
Not a natural gifted songwriter, Chris Glyde spent a lot of time figuring out step by step ways to make creative, unique songs with as little frustration as possible. This is the result. Currently he isn’t teaching writing lessons, but is teaching guitar lessons in Rochester NY